6 thoughts on “Is Widowhood More Difficult Now Than Several Decades Ago?

  • December 31, 2013 at 7:12 pm

    I wonder if an increased emphasis on the nuclear family as opposed to the extended family might play a role. Perhaps in 1972 widows were more likely to live with family.

    • January 1, 2014 at 4:03 pm

      Good point, and you are right about that. People 65+ were a bit more likely to live with family then. I found data showing that in 1970, 17% did so, vs 14.5% in 2000.

  • January 1, 2014 at 8:56 am

    It seems likely to me that the population of widows in 1973 could have been, on average, younger than widows in 2003, as a result o the massive casualties of the Vietnam War. A good number of people in the earlier sample may have married young then been widowed young, and therefore enjoyed the good health of youth at the time of the survey. Every group since then would also have had widows who lost spouses in wars, but not as many as resulted from Vietnam, so the average age of the widows in the 2003 sample would likely be much older and therefore more likely to have health issues.

    • January 1, 2014 at 4:04 pm

      Very interesting point. I don’t have the relevant data, but it does sound plausible.

  • January 3, 2014 at 8:04 pm

    I was going to post what Starbird had said …….. and that widows are usually in the very old demographic who have health and lifestyle issues due to their age.

    And about this comment ………”But once the relationship hits a bad patch or it ends, then the newly single suffer. They experience worse health than do people who have always been single, and worse health than the previously married used to experience decades ago, ”

    About 85% of marriages where one partner suffers from chronic pain end in divorce.

    So the sample of people included in the statistics are already in poor health – they don’t experience poorer health because of the marriage breakdown. (I’m not sure if I’ve analysed it correctly …… it’s just a suggestion)

    • January 3, 2014 at 8:42 pm

      It is an idea worth testing. You would need a longitudinal study, that follows the same people over time as they get married and become widowed.


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